Members of the New England Motor Press Association on Feb. 12, 2002 named the all-new Ford Explorer the Official Winter Vehicle of 2002. In addition, the Ford Ranger won the winter title for best in its class. This is the second recent honor given to Explorer by the New England Motor Press Association. In November, the association named Explorer Family Vehicle of the Year for its ability to carry seven passengers with the optional third row of seats. The 2002 Explorer's independent rear suspension allows the rear floor to be lowered, thus making room for a large, flat cargo area when the seats fold flat. The journalists also cited the Explorer's many safety features, including optional side air curtains that deploy in side impacts. The Explorer's available four-wheel-drive system called Control Trac allows the vehicle to run in its most fuel-efficient mode, with 90 percent of the torque going to the rear wheels, until sensors detect wheel slip. Then electronic traction control programming will continuously shift torque to the wheels that have traction. With the push of a button, drivers may also opt for full-time four-wheel drive, in either high or low modes. The Ford Ranger, which received honors as the best All-Weather Compact Pickup Truck, this year adds an off-road package. The Ranger FX4 package begins with the four-door SuperCab, four-wheel drive and the refined 4.0-liter V-6 engine that is new to Ranger. It adds special shock absorbers, a heavy front skid plate, tow hooks, special tires and wheels and a rear axle designed specifically for off-roading.